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2011 Schedule Analysis: BIG EAST

Two months later and I'm ready to put the second edition of the 2011 schedule analysis on the interwebs.

This time it's the Big East and their quirky 7 games in conference and varied out of conference games.

Good times for everybody. Let's see who has a tough schedule next year and who most definitely does not.

Cincinnati Bearcats

OOC Home: Austin Peay, Akron, and NC State

OOC Road: Tennessee and Miami [OH]

Conference Home: Louisville (Paul Brown Stadium), West Virginia (Paul Brown Stadium), and Connecticut

Conference Road: USF, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, and Syracuse

Grade: C+

The inclusion of two MAC teams and an I-AA opponent prevent his schedule from being tough, but two decent BCS teams, including a trip to Knoxville, make it semi-respectable.

Whose idea was it to play two Big East games at Paul Brown Stadium? That seems like a program biting off a little more than they can chew, don’t you think?

NC State is sure to be solid (although less so without Russell Wilson), while Tennessee could range anywhere from bad to pretty decent. The Big East isn’t going to blow anyone away but there aren’t any hideous teams and the Bearcats have four games on the road.

Connecticut Huskies

OOC Home: Fordham, Iowa State, and Western Michigan

OOC Road: Vanderbilt, and Buffalo

Conference Home: USF, Syracuse, Louisville, and Rutgers

Conference Road: West Virginia, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati

Grade: D+

This is a pretty horrid schedule, just look at those out of conference games. Two of the traditionally weakest BCS teams, two MAC teams, and one I-AA program.

Who’s excited in Storrs this year!

The Huskies also get four of the easiest conference games at home, which signals to me that this could be one of the absolute worst 7 or 8 win teams we’ve ever seen in college football history.

There's no way this team wins the conference again with the coaching change and losing some key players from 2010, but if they do get your pitch forks ready.

Louisville Cardinals

OOC Home: Murray State, Florida International, and Marshall

OOC Road: Kentucky, and North Carolina

Conference Home: Rutgers, Syracuse, and Pittsburgh

Conference Road: Cincinnati (P. Brown Stadium), West Virginia, Connecticut, and USF

Grade: B

FIU is a lot better than most people think, but overall the Cardinals home slate outside of the Big East is pretty cupcake-like. They will face two major challenges on the road however against two solid BCS teams.

With Pittsburgh likely to take a step back in 2011, the home games in the Big East all look winnable, but Louisville is likely to have a heck of a time picking up victories on the road against four quality (for the conference that is) opponents.

Pittsburgh Panthers

OOC Home: Buffalo, Maine, Notre Dame, and Utah

OOC Road: Iowa

Conference Home: USF, Connecticut, Cincinnati, and Syracuse

Conference Road: Rutgers, Louisville, and West Virginia

Grade: A-

This could shape up to be a very tough year for new head coach Todd Graham as it will become painfully obvious that he’s not coaching in the Conference-USA anymore in 2011.

Sure, we can make jokes about the Big East’s talent level, but combining those seven games plus three really tough out of conference matchups is something most other BCS teams simply don’t have to deal with.

Just looking at this schedule I don’t think it’s too wild to guess that this could be a four or five win Pittsburgh team this upcoming season.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights

OOC Home: North Carolina Central, Ohio, Navy, and Army (Yankee Stadium)

OOC Road: North Carolina

Conference Home: Pittsburgh, West Virginia, USF, and Cincinnati

Conference Road: Syracuse, Louisville, Connecticut

Grade: C

Two softies at home out of conference, plus a matchup with what is likely to be a Navy team not as strong as in previous seasons, should equal three wins if Schiano can get Rutgers back on track. Yes, that’s a big if.

Anyone think the game against Army in Yankee Stadium sells out? Yeah, we’ll see how much New York City loves Rutgers then. They’d better hope they don’t come into that game with two losses or more.

Overall, this should be considered a weak schedule but is very average for your typical BCS team. North Carolina will take a step back in 2011 which also hurts them here.

Syracuse Orange

OOC Home: Wake Forest, Rhode Island, and Toledo

OOC Road: USC, and Tulane

Conference Home: Rutgers, West Virginia, USF, and Cincinnati

Conference Road: Louisville, Connecticut, and Pittsburgh

Grade: C+

Wake Forest is likely the weakest team on Notre Dame’s schedule, so the inclusion of the Demon Deacons can’t be much of a positive for the Orange. Aside from the tough trip to Los Angeles, the rest of the OOC games here are weak, weak, weak!

Their road games are nothing too scary either. If Syracuse is going to break out and have a big season, this is the type of schedule they will do it with.

Any chance they beat USC on the road? The Trojans will have opened up with Minnesota and Utah before the Orange come to down…could it happen?

USF Bulls

OOC Home: Ball State, Florida A&M, UTEP, and Miami

OOC Road: Notre Dame

Conference Home: Cincinnati, Louisville, and West Virginia

Conference Road: Pittsburgh, Connecticut, Rutgers, and Syracuse

Grade: B

This is a pretty solid schedule for USF, especially with Miami and Notre Dame outside of the Big East.

They should win all of their home games besides the tilt with the Hurricanes, but they will have their work cut out for them in conference play.

If I set the over/under for the Bulls wins in 2011 at 7.5, which do you choose?

West Virginia Mountaineers

OOC Home: Marshall, Norfolk State, LSU, and Bowling Green

OOC Road: Maryland

Conference Home: Connecticut, Louisville, and Pittsburgh

Conference Road: Syracuse, Rutgers, Cincinnati, and USF

Grade: B

This was very close to being a B+ grade, but it just can’t be there with Norfolk State and a pathetic Bowling Green program part of this schedule.

The Mountaineers do welcome the Bayou Bengals early in the season which should be a special treat for college football fans and psychologists, plus a road game against a decent Maryland team, and a tilt against rival Marshall (who West Virginia should have lost to last year).

Does this look like a schedule in which West Virginia can win 10 games?

Will any of these Big East teams have fewer than 3 losses?